Indian Boarding Schools Education Essay Example
Boarding schools are establishments in which students reside throughout the terms. They eat and sleep there, and this fact actually defines the word “boarding” as bed and board. However, some institutions of this kind have learners who come to school daily and go back home in the evening. Unfortunately, most of the children end up not spending their childhood and adolescence with their parents. Care is nevertheless provided by the teaching staff in the schools as well as dorm parents who are responsible for the pupils. In western countries, boarding schools have three terms each lasting up to twelve weeks. The pupils go home for a short break in the middle of the term.
Indian boarding schools came into existence during the 20th century. Their formation resulted from several reasons, and they were located in the United States of America (Pruter 40). They were meant to provide skills and knowledge to the natives’ children in the US according to the set educational principles. Among the people who founded the boarding schools were the Christian missionaries. The main purpose of the establishments under consideration was to provide education to children from poor backgrounds in less populated areas as well as places where there were no such social amenities nearby. The kids were taught how to speak in English and dress as the Americans.
Consequently, it became hard for children to interconnect to their parents since they could only speak in English. The administration, however, supported this inventiveness. Later in the early 20th century, more schools came up based on integration. For differentiation purposes, the native children would have distinct haircuts that would distinguish them from the others. They were ordered not to speak their language, and their original names were changed into American names. All these things were done to incorporate the kids into the new American culture. Sometimes they were treated in an unkind manner, and small children who were not used to staying far away from their parents suffered a lot from it. With time, however, kids started enjoying the rich cultural exchange, and Indian people could now get American jobs. Nevertheless, an author by the name Sitting Bull criticizes the development and existence of these schools. He says that people should appreciate themselves whether white or black since that is how the Great Spirit meant them to be. Another famous man, Henry Ward Beecher, relates these institutions to a stomach through which all students pass and, consequently, are assimilated or embraced into new generation (Pruter 67).
The life and work experience of Henry Ward Beecher contributed immensely to his strong stand against the Indian boarding schools. He was an opponent of issues that he thought were not up to standards as well as a social reformer. Being a preacher, he ensured that his family understood clearly the religion and followed it to the letter. He also went to school and studied the relationship between a person’s behavior and function (Kilde and Gonzales 37). Later, he got married and had eight children; however, the half of them passed away. The man was really interested in the high rate of slavery that was exhibited in his country. As a result, he supported military partisans who aimed at stopping people from voting for anti-abolitionist platforms and provided weapons to injure and kill the anti-abolitionists. Beecher also ordered Abraham Lincoln to release all the slaves. Not surprisingly, he gained favor with many people due to his actions. He insisted that God was part of nature and nobody had a right to interfere with his work. His life experience clearly explains his stand on boarding schools. Beecher criticized them since that was where cultural evils were carried out on innocent children (Schacht 54). According to his quote, common schools were the stomachs of the country where people were assimilated to another community. Those were the places where the pupils were forced to change their cultures and traditions in order to fit in to the ways of life of the Americans.
Sitting Bull also had a life and work experience that makes his strong criticism against boarding schools clear. He was an American chief who was native. His community struggled to survive in the country. In 1874, gold was discovered in South Dakota, thus, leading to conflicts with the United States of America. The wars continued for a while; however, the natives had to give up the fight since the people were on the verge of death due to the lack of food (Pruter 30). Sitting Bull was later shot dead while being detained by the government of America. They though he would lead a movement aimed at recovering the gold and reinstating the living standards of the people. In his tribe, Sitting Bull was seen as a fighter and a man with a great vision for his community. He is commemorated for being persistent and fighting against the supremacy of white people in America (Kilde and Gonzales 88). Sitting Bull was also an opponent of the boarding schools since he strongly believed that the culture of the Native Americans did not have to change since it was unique in its own way. In his quote, he says that if God had wished him to be a white man, he would have done so in the first place. Each person whether black or white is equal in God’s eyes; hence, there was no need of trying to force the natives to incorporate into the culture of the Americans. He gives an analogy that it is not necessary for eagles to become crows. Each individual should feel comfortable wherever they are.
The opinions of the two men about boarding schools were fair. Children there faced a lot of challenges. Concerning those who were greatly attached to their families, it was wise to involve them into the decision making before sending to such a school. These institutions were not always the best places for everyone. Such involvement would help the kids to feel appreciated.
In boarding schools, the children also gained various experiences. They were either of help or affected their lives negatively. Moreover, they had no option but to adhere to the rules and regulations that governed the schools regardless of who brought those rules into existence. Additionally, for a child to be accepted into boarding school, there was a tendency that he/she had to demonstrate the ability to show good performance in their exams, and a failure meant that a pupil would repeat a year or more. Not surprisingly, this was seen as a torture to the child. Furthermore, upon joining a boarding school, some of students were bullied by the others. This was a bad behavior that led to some children losing their lives and traumatized other kids who witnessed the act. Actually, it was seen as a place where children who were rejected by their families were sent. It was not of any help as the kids did not put any effort to improve their behavior. Therefore, boarding schools should stop being seen as a disciplinary measure for those with rather bad character.
There were also other drawbacks that children experienced in boarding schools. They would spend more of their time in schools than at home (Schacht 66). This kept them away from their parents denying them the pleasure of experiencing parental love. Therefore, this affected their social and inner progress. The children felt excessive periods of stress, and they became discouraged and socially secluded. This influenced their relationship with their parents, brothers and sisters. Furthermore, due to a high number of classes and extracurricular activities, the pupils lacked the time for their personal interests (Pruter 93). This is because most boarding schools were structured with a lot of rules and laws that governed the children. Not surprisingly, some students tried to fight against these regulations since they felt harassed.
Being in boarding schools, the children were anticipated to perform some responsibilities before they attended lectures. These duties included cleaning of classrooms, the compound around the establishment and other activities. Some of these tasks might have been too hard for the students to handle. This could be termed to be more of slavery.
On the other hand, children in boarding schools had more personal attention from their teachers than children in day schools. This factor was a result of a small number of pupils in the schools. This personal attention helped the children to improve greatly in their academic performance since they were more engaged with their teachers. Large amounts of school fees were charged, and, therefore, this allowed employing more qualified workers and buying much better resources compared to day schools. This factor contributed greatly to the development of the student’s educational life. The resources included good libraries, better playing fields and excellent equipment in the science laboratories. Consequently, the students had an opportunity to develop well in all social aspects of life since they were more exposed to modern facilities. Life in boarding schools helped the students grow self-sufficiently and become established individuals (Pruter 70).
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This is because they were away from family life, and they had to make their own decisions. In case the students needed any help when faced with problems, there were counseling services programs offered by the institution. Since the students in boarding school mostly met as strangers, they had to make friendship with the fellow pupils for them to start living together (Kilde and Gonzales 50). This helped them improve their way of interaction in new environments. Additionally, the children spent a lot of time with their teachers; hence, they benefited from first hand pieces of advice as the lecturers were readily available. In case a pupil faced challenges when doing the homework, a professional teacher was available to help that is the opposite of what happened in day schools where they had to be helped by the parents.
To summarize, despite all the benefits of the boarding schools, these were many drawbacks that the students that influenced the attitude of the two men. According to Beecher, the children
became part of the life that they experienced in these institutions since they had to adhere to the rules that controlled them in school. Sitting Bull saw the life there as a situation when the students lost their cultural values and started practicing those of others (Schacht 63). The legacy of these establishments includes abusive deeds, loss of cultural behaviors and tribal history, drug abuse, suicide, irresponsibility and slavery (Kilde and Gonzales 110). This made boarding schools to be unsuccessful. The authors were right since their quotes mention is exactly what students who went through boarding school experienced.